MASSIVE POLLUTION

Nema bans gold mining in Bondo and Rarieda

This follows reports that some Tanzanian nationals are using poisonous chemicals to extract the mineral in the area

In Summary

•According to Nema county director William Odeyo, the poisonous chemical has led to massive pollution in the areas.

•While issuing the ban, Odeyo said only sites that comply with the requirements of the EMCA Cap 387 and the Mining Act of 2016 will be allowed to operate.

The National Environment Management Authority has banned gold mining in Bondo and Rarieda subcounties in Siaya.

This follows reports that some Tanzanian nationals are using poisonous chemicals to extract the mineral in the area.

Residents of the affected areas of Nango, Kajohn, Wagusu, Got Abiero and other parts of Nyang'oma division where sodium cyanide has been commonly used reported deaths of livestock, prompting the authority to take action.

According to Nema county director William Odeyo, the poisonous chemical has also led to massive pollution of the environment in the areas.

Odeyo raised concerns that the continued use of the poisonous compound for leaching of gold in several sites in both Rarieda and Bondo was also posing serious health risks to the locals.

In a notice copied to region commanders and deputy county commissioners of the two subcounties,  Odeyo directed that all leaching sites stop operations.

Speaking to the Star on Tuesday, he said his office had received complaints from residents regarding the use of the toxic substance to extract the precious metal.

While issuing the ban, Odeyo said only sites that comply with the requirements of the EMCA Cap 387 and the Mining Act of 2016 will be allowed to operate.

The Nema regional boss further said over 50 per cent of an estimated 3,000 small scale miners do not have mining permits from the State Department of Mining.

“The miners many of whom were operating without the required documents use life-threatening sodium cyanide to separate gold from the sand where large doses of cyanide deprive cells of oxygen and lead to the death of cells‚” Odeyo said.

According to a report by the National Environmental and Complaints Committee, the heart, respiratory system and central nervous systems are most susceptible to cyanide poisoning.

Siaya county authorities recently raised concerns that mushrooming of illegal mining sites in Bondo and Rarieda subcounties has seen a rise in open-pit mines that endangers the lives of the operators and residents.

Some of the areas identified include Wagusu, Abimbo and Nango in Bondo subcounty, where some of the miners are reported to be operating without observing basic safety standards.

Two years ago, three students who were mining gold in Nango area lost their lives after a mine caved in following a heavy downpour.

The victims included a KCSE candidate at Uyawi Secondary School and another one from Egerton University.

On Tuesday the Nema director asked the Siaya county commissioner Michael Ole Tialal to help the authority enforce the ban.

“We can not just sit and watch as foreigners expose our people and their livestock, together with the environment to a toxic substance,” he said.

The residents had in the past accused the Tanzanian miners of using huge trucks to destroy the roads in the area.

The trucks are used to transport the sand that is used to extract gold using cyanide.

 

 

Edited by Kiilu Damaris